A recent Gallup Poll unsurprisingly but sadly shows majorities approving non-marital sex, same sex marriage, divorce and children out of wedlock. Ninety percent still oppose adultery. But the number favoring polygamy has doubled to 14 percent, still small but significant. Look for that number to grow!
Other recent polls show possible majorities favoring legalization of marijuana. And assisted suicide also seemingly has growing support.
Of course poll questions can skew or show only one incomplete angle of popular perceptions. A recent Pew Poll shows 64 percent thinking the number of children born to unwed mothers is a “big problem.” Only 13 percent thought no problem at all. And some polls show a growing negativity to abortion.
Yet there is a potential majority emerging with views about the basic ethics of human life profoundly at odds with Christianity and most traditional beliefs. Much of the institutional church has facilitated this slide. Once Mainline Protestantism decided during the mid twentieth century that its vocation was not to teach permanent truths but strive to echo secular society, having no confidence in once settled convictions. Evangelicals and Catholics were deemed retrograde. The Church of What’s Happening Now replaced theology with sociology. “Catch up!” became its refrain.
In becoming a chorus for rather than a biblically faithful challenge to society, the Mainline became sideline. Some oldline church elites now are pushing furiously for same sex marriage. But few outside those diminished circles really care anymore about the former Mainline. These once prestigious religious forces have become mostly irrelevant.
A growing number of evangelical elites also eagerly want to exchange theology for sociology, enslaving themselves to the secular culture. They erroneously believe that accommodation equals relevance. The price will be that in 20 years some once teeming megachurches will be empty warehouses, and some now thriving para church ministries will be eviscerated or closed. Some evangelical schools will shut down, merge or secularize beyond recognition.
But millions of orthodox Christians will remain faithful, heed the lessons of recent history, and respond to the existential social challenges before us. They will proclaim with renewed enthusiasm and sense of mission the timeless and urgently needed truths of marriage, family, sanctity of life, and the holiness of the human body. Profound spiritual teachings will have been vividly and often tragically vindicated by the collapse of marriage and its intrinsic ties to procreation. Millions who as children never had mothers and fathers married to each other will want better for their children. The predictable moral and demographic consequences of widespread abortion, assisted suicide, and recreational drugs will have been widely discerned.
Once again churches will serve as moral beacons and not dull enablers of society’s most corrosive pathologies. It will be an exciting and heroic age, resembling the great eras of social reforms in history for which The Church was champion, against much adversity, earning the increased contempt of many social elites and their fellow travelers within institutional religion. But The Church and its unchanging faith will surge ahead, amazing friends and foes. Let it begin soon!